Yongehurst Distillery Co
346 Westmoreland Ave N
Davenport (Ward 17), Toronto
yongehurst.com

Dear Neighbour,

We come to you as two friends of over 20 years and the owners of Yongehurst Distillery Co, a local business here in Ward 17, Davenport. Our business brings together a mix of family tradition, science and creativity to develop a number of unique products at our small spirit distillery, currently the only in Toronto.

On the weekend of March 5th, we were surprised to learn of a petition being circulated by a neighbour adjacent to our building. The petition was in opposition of our application for a license to serve mixed sample drinks to guests as part of tours, educational workshops, events and tastings.

The “Employment Industrial” zoned building we call home has been a fixture at the corner of Geary Ave and Westmoreland Ave since 1934. It’s various businesses have become an integral part of the transformation of this rapidly improving neighbourhood.

Most residents of this ward would agree that something magical is happening around Geary Ave, in part due to residents working together to support local businesses, transforming this neighbourhood for the better. Yongehurst, along with the residents that we are proud to call our customers and friends, want to see the positive improvements continue in Davenport-Ward 17.

As a thank you for the tremendous support we’ve received since opening our doors, we have given back to this community by donating to a number of neighbourhood businesses, schools, community groups and events. We believe a community business has a responsibility to give back and support its neighbours, just as neighbours support their local businesses.

Since formally opening our business in 2015 at Geary Ave and Westmoreland Ave in Ward 17, we have personally met with a number of neighbourhood residents like yourself to discuss our plan for a tasting room and the possibility of a very small summer-daytime patio for guests. The allowance of paid sampling as part of the experience we offer is absolutely critical to our ability to maintain our business in Davenport.

Without it, our business will be forced to leave Ward 17. (Read the petition)

Our application to the AGCO included an architect's calculation for capacity based on floor space. Our unit’s maximum standing capacity (based on the industry standard calculation) is 125 indoor, 55 outdoor. Our plan however, is to allow regular seating for 16-24 patrons indoor and the possibility of seating 4-8 outdoor, with the exception of the occasional workshop or educational program, as city bylaws permit. Our tasting room is meant to promote our products. We believe this plan is within reason and akin to similar breweries, wineries and distilleries in our ward and around Ontario.

Since opening to the neighbourhood, we have offered free tasting to patrons in accordance with AGCO policies. In that time, no one has left our establishment impaired, nor have we received a single complaint for noise or otherwise, always acting in accordance with City bylaws.

We were saddened by the depiction of our business in the petition and follow up letters. We have worked hard to position our business and the products we make as a premium offering, not meant to attract the type of patrons characterized in those letters.

Nonetheless, we have taken responsibility for our part in this misunderstanding and have since distributed a letter of apology to residents of Westmoreland. That letter included a more detailed version of our plan in the hopes of dispelling rumours and repairing the relationship with those of our neighbours who have expressed concern or may have been misinformed.

Although a number of residents have since withdrawn their petition after speaking with us, there is still much to do in the way of proving to those 50 petitioners and to Councillor Palacio that an artisan retail-manufacturing business like ours can positively benefit this growing neighbourhood and all of the over 50,000 residents in Ward 17.

For those residents who believe it’s critical that small businesses be an integral part of the fabric of a mixed-use neighbourhood, we ask that you sign this petition to let our Councillor know that those 50 residents do not represent the whole of Davenport and Ward 17. Let Councillor Palacio know that you will support a business that contributes to the wellbeing of its surround residents and will encourage the continued improvement of our neighbourhood.

How you can help

  1. Sign our petition. You can also print and drop it off to us or contact us directly and we will happily arrange a time to pick it up from you at your convenience:

    346 Westmoreland Ave N (at Geary Ave)
    416-616-5991 (call or text) / info@yongehurst.com

  2. If you live and vote in Ward 17, call or visit Councillor Palacio and let him know you support Yongehurst in Davenport and insist our application proceed with his support:

    91 Via Italia, First Floor (St Clair / Dufferin)
    416-392-0399 / councillor_palacio@toronto.ca

  3. Have a friend who would feel the impact of a neighbourhood businesses closing in Ward 17? Let them know. Email them this URL:

    http://yongehurst.com/petition

    Share this on social media:

  4. Have questions that were not address here? Visit us. One of the easiest ways to misunderstand a situation is to make assumptions without getting all of the facts.

  5. Continue to support businesses in Ward 17. Be Proud! There are a number of unique local businesses open to the public here in the Artisan Factory on Geary Ave and right across Davenport. Local support is more meaningful to small business owners than you may realize.

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